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Press Release

Campaign Worker Pleads Guilty To Buying Votes In Donna School Board Election

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – A campaign worker pleaded guilty today for paying voters to vote in the November 2012 school board election in Donna, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Diana Balderas Castaneda, 48, of Donna, pleaded guilty to one count of vote-buying before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 25, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.

According to a factual statement read during the plea hearing, a general election was held on or about Nov. 6, 2012, in Donna that included candidates for the presidential election, as well as various state, county and local offices, including the members of the Donna School Board. Balderas assisted in the campaign to elect four candidates to the Donna School Board. In the course of that work, Balderas knowingly and willfully paid and offered to pay voters for voting in this election. In addition, she indicated during the plea hearing that at least two campaign managers also paid voters in her presence.

Another campaign worker, Rebecca Gonzalez, 44, also of Donna, pleaded guilty to the same charge before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Feb. 14, 2014. She is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 16, 2014.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Leo and Trial Attorneys Monique Abrishami and Jennifer Blackwell of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015